By MARINA VILLENEUVE and LORI HINNANT Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City's death toll from the coronavirus eclipsed the number of those killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11, health officials said Tuesday. In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson lay in intensive care with the virus.
At least 3,202 people have died in New York from COVID-19, according to the count released by the city. The deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil killed 2,753 people in the city and 2,977 overall, when hijacked planes slammed into the twin towers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001.
New York state recorded 731 new coronavirus deaths, its biggest one-day jump yet, for a statewide toll of nearly 5,500, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
"Behind every one of those numbers is an individual. There's a family, there's a mother, there's a father, there's a sister, there's a brother. So a lot of pain again today for many New Yorkers," he said.
But in an encouraging sign, Cuomo reported that hospital admissions and the number of those receiving breathing tubes are dropping, indicating that measures taken to force people to keep their distance from one another are succeeding.
And alarming as the one-day increase in deaths might sound, the governor said that's a "lagging indicator," reflecting severely ill people who had been hospitalized before this week. Over the past several days, in fact, the number of deaths in New York appeared to be leveling off.
"You see that plateauing — that's because of what we are doing. If we don't do what we are doing, that is a much different curve," he said. "So social distancing is working."
Across the U.S., the death toll neared 12,000, with around 380,000 confirmed infections. Some of the deadliest hot spots included Detroit, New Orleans and the New York metropolitan area, which includes parts of Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut.
In London, the 55-year-old Johnson, the world's first head of government known to have fallen ill with the virus, was in stable condition and conscious at a hospital, where he was receiving oxygen but was not on a ventilator, said his spokesman James Slack. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was designated to run the country in the meantime.
Deaths in Britain rose to nearly 6,200, after a one-day increase of almost 800.
"We're desperately hoping that Boris can make the speediest possible recovery," said Cabinet minister Michael Gove, who is among scores of British officials in self-isolation.
Stocks rose during the day on Wall Street after a big rally the day before on news that the crisis may be easing in some of the world's hardest-hit places. The S&P 500 was up nearly 2.5% at midday.
Elsewhere around the world, there were contrasting developments.
Chinese authorities lifted the lockdown on Wuhan after 76 days, allowing residents to travel in and out of the industrial city of 11 million where the worldwide outbreak began. China, which officially recorded more than 82,000 infections and over 3,300 deaths, listed no new cases on Tuesday, though the country's figures are regarded with suspicion by some public health experts.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a month-long state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures because of a spike of infections in the country with the world's oldest population. The order will close hostess bars and other night entertainment.
"My lifestyle will change. These are difficult times" said Yoshiyuki Kataoka, 44, a nightlife industry worker. "Maybe I'll become a recluse."
In some European hot spots, as in New York, authorities saw signs that the outbreak was turning a corner, based on slowdowns in new deaths and hospitalizations.
In Spain, new deaths Tuesday rose to 743 and infections climbed by 5,400 after five days of declines, but the increases were believed to reflect a weekend backlog. Authorities said they were confident in the downward trend.
In Italy, the hardest-hit country of all, with over 16,500 deaths, authorities appealed to people ahead of Easter weekend not to lower their guard and to abide by a lockdown now in its fifth week, even as new cases dropped to a level not seen since the early weeks of the outbreak.
"Finally it seems we are beginning to see a lessening of new cases" after a plateau, said Giovanni Rezza, director of the infectious-disease division of Italy's national health institute.
New cases were also slowing in France and Portugal. To keep up social distancing, Paris banned daytime jogging just as warm spring weather settled in.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said that if Americans continue to practice social distancing for the rest of April, "we will be able to get back to some sense of normalcy."
"I want the American people to know there is a light at the end of this tunnel, and we feel confident that if we keep doing the right thing for the rest of this month, that we can start to slowly reopen in some places," he said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
One lockdown exception in the U.S. was Wisconsin, which asked hundreds of thousands of voters to ignore a stay-at-home order to participate in its presidential primary Tuesday.
Lines were particularly long in Milwaukee, the state's largest city and a Democratic stronghold, where just five of 180 traditional polling places were open. Many voters across the state did not have facial coverings in line with public health recommendations.
In Madison, city workers erected hard plastic barriers to protect poll workers, and voters were encouraged to bring their own pens to mark their ballots.
Worldwide, more than 1.3 million people have been confirmed infected and over 75,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. The true numbers are almost certainly much higher, because of limited testing, different rules for counting the dead and deliberate underreporting by some governments.
For most people, the virus causes mild to moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. But for some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause pneumonia. Close to 300,000 people have recovered worldwide.
One of the main models on the outbreak, from the University of Washington, is projecting about 82,000 U.S. deaths through early August, with the highest number on April 16.